And as previous efforts have shown, I tend to go overboard and write novellas about my favorite things. But not today. Today, I'm going to keep it short and sweet, or at least try to keep it manageable. So here it is, my five favorite things that begin with the letter F.
If you guessed that I was going to say
But this blog is not meant for those mature topics or themes. I don't have the talent to pull something like that off with the class and humor and style the other bloggers clearly demonstrate in their entertaining sites. I know my weaknesses and my strengths. I know when to step up and lead or when to step aside and follow someone else who is better qualified.
I could list flamenco, flamingoes, and fireworks as some of my favorite things that begin with the letter F. And they are fantastic and fabulous. But I feel like the list should be more substantial, or at least feel more sophisticated or more uplifting and interesting. It should also be brief, like I had planned but all ready, I seem to be getting off track. So, reeling it back in, here are my five favorite things that begin with the letter F:
1. Family and Friends.
It's kind of a cheat, but you know that I had to put that in there, at the very top. Because it's true. Family and friends are important to me. They define who we are and defend us in times of need. They're the people who love you and care for you and only want the best for you.
Granted, family is complicated. Not everyone is lucky enough to have been born into a great, supportive family. And all families have problems, including my own. There are some very deep differences between me and some of my family members. And it's caused tension and conflict over the years. We all want different things or at least have different perspectives and contrasting ideas about the world and our place in it. We might have been raised by the same parents with the same values, but we make our own decisions and hold on to our own beliefs.
It's taken me a long time to wise up and realize that I may never change some of my family members' minds and attitudes. They are who they are. And the sooner I realized that I am NOT responsible for how they behave or think or feel, the less stressful I've become in accepting that they are who they are; and it's their lives, their choices, and it's they who have to live with the consequences. And I don't need to prove anything or justify my life or my decisions to them or anyone else. My life, so I'll live it the way I want to live it. And it's made me so much happier. It's a liberating and joyful experience.
You don't get a choice into which family you are born into. So thank goodness that friends are the family that you get to pick. Friends are loyal, loving, caring, and understanding. They will support you and protect you and stand by you in times of crisis. And they will be honest with you and give you a good smack of reality and reel you in when you make an ass of yourself or start turning into a jerk. Real friends help you be the best you that you can be. They see the best parts of you along with the worst, and they've accepted that you are worth keeping, because they see something of value inside of you.
Friends and family take care of each other, look out for each other, and stand up for each other against a world that can be hostile and unforgiving at times. We all need good friends and good families, because true friends and loving families make life worth living, and they make our world and our lives so much better, happier, and more wonderful and fulfilling.
I love feasts. Any time a gathering celebrates with good food and good company is a guaranteed path to a good time. Food brings us together. And good food with good people makes for good eating and good times.
I was a very picky eater growing up. Didn't like spices or foods that were too hot or looked strange or felt different or tasted weird. I liked simple, plain food. I didn't even like pizza or meat pies! I thought they were too spicy or just tasted too different from what I liked. About the wildest thing that I would eat was fried chicken and BBQ. So it is not surprising to know that those are still some of my favorite foods to this day.
Thankfully, as I grew older, I got to experience different cultures and was exposed to different foods. Now, food is an adventure, and it's made life so much more interesting and fun to try the many varieties of food that different people and different cultures make and share. Food, what it's made of and how it's prepared and shared, tells the story of us, what we believe and what we value. It defines us and expresses our beliefs and ideas to the world.
Honestly, I don't always enjoy everything I come across. I don't know how I would feel about eating a dog, or a camel, or a monkey, or a cat. But I do enjoy gators and some insects and worms and eels and even turtles--sorry, wildlife defenders. The turtle was served to me in a soup. I thought it was pork and beef, and it did taste delicious. Plus, I didn't want to seem rude to my host who had invited me to share a meal at his home. I was raised to be courteous and polite, to be respectful.
Some foods just taste or smell terrible to me. I can never get past the stench of kimchee. It always makes my eyes water and drives me out of the room! Some food just look so awful that I just can't bring myself to eat it. Like dung beetles. For gawd's sake their name says it all: Dung beetles! They literally roll around in crap! And I do have a strong aversion to cilantro/coriander--Blah! But overall, I enjoy sampling new cuisines and tasting dishes that are totally foreign to me. It has led me to some divine delectable delights!
And some of the best places to discover and sample great food are at festivals, carnivals, and fairs. Sure, a lot of the stuff is deep fried and is best sampled in small quantities. But there are also hidden culinary gems just waiting to be discovered, like fried ice cream or crunchy BBQ or fried pork skins. And I admit that I like indulging in some of those too rich treats like Frito pies, fried candy bars, and donut bacon and cheese burgers. I think it's okay to treat yourself every now and then. Those little surprises and rewards make life much more rich and enjoyable, especially when they are shared with friends and loved ones.
I like to have fun. That means a variety of things from hiking, going to the beach, or enjoying a day at the rollercoasters. It also means dancing, singing, and playing games with friends and others. It's about parties, outings, gatherings, and backyard BBQs or dressing up and attending planned, formal, catered social events.
It also means going solo to explore nature or checking out museums and galleries or watching a film that no one else in your circle would want to see. Sometimes, it's reading a good book that lets your imagination run wild and takes you on an adventure. Sometimes, it's exploring new places and meeting new people, and trying new things like whitewater rafting or line dancing or going to the places where the locals eat, or hang out, or even gather to play, pray, or relax at the end of the day.
It's about taking chances and being open to new experiences and opportunities. No guts, no glory. Have no regrets over lost time or missed chances. It's about seizing the moments when they come and embracing life in all its wild, untamed glory. Life is meant to be lived, and life is best experienced when it's lived fully and wholeheartedly.
I like being free. I love seeing freedom in action. I like the sensation of free falling, that sudden drop from high places you can experience at theme parks or when you're jumping off a high perch to dive into deep waters.
I don't like anyone telling me what I can or cannot do. Forbid me or tell me that I can't do something because it's out of my abilities or comfort zone, and I'm motivated to do it, just to prove that I can get it done. There's a rebel in me, and it doesn't like being pushed around or being restricted.
Sometimes, I wonder if I was born a rebel or was I reacting to being one of the youngest in the family who didn't like being bossed around by much older siblings. Maybe I'm just a brat. But I did not like being ordered around by others when I was a little kid. To get me to cooperate, ask me nicely. Being mean to me just made me hardheaded and stubborn, vowing vengeance and never giving in. Maybe I was born this way, wired to be scrappy and feisty.
But I do know that I love watching freedom in practice. I may not always agree with what people are expressing, but I do support freedom of speech and expression, so long as they don't harm anyone. And I like listening to people speak freely or sing freestyle when making a point or sending a message. But I especially love freestyle in dancing and in art.
There's a beauty and divine grace that radiates brilliantly when a dancer lets go and gives into their emotions and spirit freely, to say and express with mind, body, and soul who they are and what they stand for, what they hold dear, what they want to say and share with the world.
And artists who fearlessly express their thoughts and feelings in their creations craft magnificent masterpieces. Paintings, sculptures, photos, carvings, weavings, and across so many media, it's a wonder to behold artists display their gifts and portray their visions for all the world to see. They capture and reveal the essence of things, the truth of the matter, the core and nature of the very subject they are seeing and sharing with us through their extraordinary talents.
Yes, there should be limits or boundaries to freedom, especially when it poses a danger to others. There should be a balance between freedom of expression and taking responsibility for one's actions. It's a fine balancing act, most difficult, challenging, and ever evolving with our changing society. But that's a good thing. Change helps us grow stronger and thrive. Life is change. Freedom is being able to embrace change and live life on one's own terms. And that's a beautiful and extraordinary way of living, a wonderful way of being.
I grew up on a farm. And as a small child, I loved it. But as I got older and learned that there was whole other world out there, I grew restless and couldn't wait to leave that remote, rural coast. I longed to head out to the big cities and amazing places I've read about, seen in books and magazines and on tv; and I wanted to experience the exciting things travelers to our region shared with us about their adventures in the world beyond our borders.
The farm felt smaller, and my local area just felt too small and too boring. I wanted to live life out there in the big cities and see the wonders of the larger, metropolitan and wild places in the country. So when the opportunity came, I seized it, and I left the farm far behind to start my journey into the big world.
And the big world was much more exciting than I could ever have imagined! And it was also a lot more dangerous. But I was lucky to have been blessed with good friends who looked our for me and helped me learn, and survive, and thrive in the urban jungle. And in a short time, this country, coastal, farming, beach boy would become adept at living and enjoying the splendid thrills and action of the big cities.
Eventually, I got to see and experience those vast wild spaces and revel in their majesty and wonders. I got to travel the world and see those far off exotic places that I had only dreamed and read about in travel books and magazines. Life was a fantastic adventure, and I just couldn't get enough. I was living the dream.
But lately, I find myself missing the farm. I hadn't thought of it in years. I don't know if it's because I'm older and wiser now, or if I'm realizing something important. But I miss the farm. I honestly didn't think I would ever go back to living on that rural, remote coast. But I've been nostalgic this past year for the old places, the open fields and wild forests, the towering mountains, and the rivers and beaches and shimmering waters of the sea.
More than anything, what I really miss is that sense of camaraderie and belonging that comes from growing up on a farm. We worked hard together, we looked out for each other, we enjoyed each other's company, even when we would argue over the stupidest and silliest things. I think I just miss being near my brothers, the two that I am closest to. We've all ended up in the far corners of the world. Our choices and circumstances have led our lives in very different directions and in far off places.
And while we talk on the phone often enough, somehow, I still miss their presence; and I long to be near them once more, having fun and sharing experiences like we did back on the farm, when we were small children, and life was a big adventure. Maybe I just need to see them next vacation, to reconnect and reminisce, to strengthen our ties and bonds once more.
Or maybe I just miss the simplicity of the rural life, the slow pace, being surrounded by nature and living, growing things. When I left home, I had no intention of ever settling back there in that far, remote, rural coast, still so far from the cities. But now, I think I'm okay with that. Somehow, I've rediscovered the value of living in a rural, remote place. And it doesn't really matter if I go back to the farm or end up some other place equally beautiful, wild, and remote.
For so long, I've lived and clung on to this urban identity and life that I've worked hard to create. And it's been a glorious and fantastic ride. But now, I'm okay with letting it go. I'm all right with embracing my farming, faraway beach roots. I'm content with being a village, country boy once more, with being who I guess I've always been: A beach boy and a farm boy from the remote, rural coast. And I'm perfectly fine with that.
It would seem that life still has surprises for me, and I look forward to that, with the same eagerness and excitement that has taken me around the world. I would be fine if I somehow ended up back where I started, or in a place just as beautiful and wild. I'm not sure where life will take me, but I am willing to keep an open mind and do the best I can to live life to the fullest and cherish the people and places that I call home.
And there you have it. My five favorite things that begin with the letter F. Hopefully, I'll finish a few more alphabet letters before the year is over. And I will try to be better at keeping them short or at least entertaining and interesting. It's all trial and error. But that's life. We live, we learn, we go on. And hopefully, we all come through our journey and experiences and become stronger, wiser, and happier people.
B all that you can B
What you C is what you get, the beginning
What you C is what you get, the middle
What you C is what you get, the end
Brought to you by the letter S
U doing that thing U do
Zing Zing Zoom